In the 1800s people started to show in in the Pacific Northwest, these people were Japanese. Anyone who was apart of a minority was discriminated against, including the Japanese. Flash forward to WWII, when Japanese Americans were held by American’s after the bombing of pearl harbor. Americans looked for answers or people to blame and eventually rumors circulate around that Japanese farmers had plowed arrows in Hawaii pointing towards military locations for Japan to attack. Due to the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the executive order 9066; executive order 9066 was issued only twelve days after the attack. All Americans with Japanese lineage were thought to be spies, loyal to their country. The executive order permitted the military to declare certain areas off-limits to any or all persons (Versions of America, pg. 698)
After the Executive order was put into place all Americans with any Japanese lineage had a week to get their priorities in order. They then had to gather as much as they had to carry and sell the rest. General John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Defense Command, immediately declared the entire West Coast a military zone closed to “all persons of Japanese ancestry, both alien and non-alien” (Version of America, pg. 698) Japanese and U.S. citizens rode on a train to internment camps. 110,000 Japanese Americans were sent to 10 different camps where they would stay till the end of the war.
After these 110,000 people arrived at their internment camps they were greeted with temporary homes surrounded with fencing, and not the white picket fence that all urban homes have; barbed wire surrounding their homes with guards watching every move you make. Imagine being crammed into a small home seizing all of your privacy, not just in your home but everywhere in the internment. You may work but the pay they give you is only minimum wage which was $0.25 in 1940, in 2019 that is around $4.25
The Japanese Americans started to fight, they thought that their rights as Americans were being violated. They took this matter to the supreme court with Korematsu vs. the United States in 1944. The supreme court found that “constitutionality of relocating and interning Japanese Americans as a justifiable military measure” (Versions of America, pg. 700).
In the internments, there was roughly two-thirds of native-born Japanese Americas. There was only one-third of Japanese Americans that actually had ties to Japan. This statistic shows how wrong it was to start executive order 9066. With the American government not doing this exact same thing to other enemies of war, it is easy to sympathize for the Japanese Americans that had to go through WWII in internment camps. In 1988, the United States gave every Japanese American that went through an internment camp, $20,000 for their troubles.
Just thinking about what these men and woman went through, the American Government was not right in doing this to the Japanese Americans. Imagine being a man or woman that has lived in America all your life, you have worked hard you have made a family and you are a U.S. citizen. Then your country is attacked by the people who are your ancestors, you are related to them in some way. The American government sees this relation and they tell you on short notice you have to get ready and leave because of executive order 9066 that the President has put in place. You must get your act together and grab as much as you can carry to a temporary home where you are overcrowded and watched at all times till the end of the war.
Japanese Americans constitutional rights were challenged and what it meant to be an American citizen.
Keene, Jennifer D., Cornell, Saul, and O’Donnell, Edward T. Visions of America: A History of the United States, Volume2, 3rded. 2019.